Thai massage combines techniques from acupressure, yoga, and Zen shiatsu and is inspired by Buddhist teachings. The actual massage consists of a technique that uses slow, rhythmic compressions and stretches along the body’s energy lines, also called Sen in Thai. Over 70,000 Sen are said to exist within the body, and Thai massage concentrates on applying pressure along 10 of the most important Sen using the palms of the hands, thumbs, elbows, and feet. The effort from the practitioner works to free tension within the body. Practitioners also position the body into yoga-like poses and gently rock the body to more deeply open joints and facilitate limbering.
A thorough Thai massage includes the following four basic positions:
from the front with the client lying supine
from the side with the client alternately lying on either side
from the back with the client lying prone
in a sitting position
One of the most important principles of Thai massage is the continuous flow of sequential movements that prepares the client for the next step in the massage. The practitioner is always aware of his position so that an uninterrupted, slow rhythm is maintained. Deep, sustained pressure ensures that the myofascia, or the muscle’s connective tissue, soften and relax in order to release the flow of energy along the Sen, and to prepare the client for the large-scale stretches that follow.